Pub review: George and Dragon, Cowgate, Welton, HU15

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OUR room had everything we needed – en suite bathroom, tea and coffee making facilities, plasma screen TV – oh, but no bed.

Clearly some changes were afoot at the George and Dragon, and to be fair to the manager he came running across the car park to the accommodation blocks at the back, as soon as he realised we had been offered a bed-free room. Luckily there was a fully furnished (and actually rather nicer) room next door, so we were quickly re-located there.

Welton was our first night’s stop on a week-long trek around Yorkshire in my research for a new book about the county’s best pubs, breweries and beers. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

This pretty village of red brick cottages is just off the M62 between Goole and Hull, not far from the northern end of the Humber Bridge, where picturesque 11th Century St Helen’s Church sits beyond the rippling mill pond. The whitewashed stone frontage of the pub looks out across the village green from a corner plot which dominates a sizeable chunk of the main street, its large main building in front of two former stable blocks which have now been converted for human comfort.

The pub is housed in a 17th century coaching inn which is said to once have been a favourite of Dick Turpin’s, though if every pub which claimed to have some association to the notorious highwayman were proved correct, then it would suggest he’d spent most of his daytime sobering up in a ditch rather than relieving wealthy coach parties of their valuables.

Though much of the Green Dragon’s own long history has been erased in a series of refits down the years, some attractive reproduction features do play to that sense of antiquity. One side wall is a dramatic spread of red brick; some simple, rustic carved oak panelling stretches across the front of the L-shaped bar. Around the walls is a fascinating display of historic black and white images – trams, street scenes, shops, docks, daily life and the high times of Hull Fair. There are rural prints, old cartoons, and high on one wall an array of wine bottles twinkles amid the fairy lights.

The name picked out in squat gold lettering is a reliable sign that the Green Dragon is owned by Marston’s, this one-time Midlands regional brewer now stretching corporate tentacles into all corners of the kingdom. And as you approach the bar, you get a reminder of just how far they reach. Handpulled beers on the bar like Jennings Cumberland ale and Thwaites Wainwright were once the local pride of Cockermouth and Blackburn respectively; each is now owned by Marston’s.

The Wainwright has long been a favourite and this crisp golden ale proves a perfect foil for my chunky chicken, Guinness and mustard pie (£8.75). It would satisfy lovers of real pies by being an entirely self-contained entity, with a top, bottom and sides – and was accompanied by mounds of chips and peas. My partner’s 8oz rump steak (£10.25) comes with chips, tomatoes peas and mushrooms, though she insists on washing it down with Rioja.

The menu offers plenty. Burgers start at £8.95, curries at £8.45 and sandwiches at £5.45, while clotted cream rice pudding, apple pie and jam roly poly all feature on a list of old school desserts.

And, just this once, we are able to stagger directly from the restaurant to our room, without the customary irritation of a drive home. And once the room had been properly furnished with a bed, it proves a great place to stay. The rooms have been sensitively converted from their equine purpose, the functional roof beams repurposed as period features, a powerful shower blasting away the cares of the day.

So, all in all, this was a great place to stay, though some rubbery scrambled eggs for me and an overcooked poached egg for my partner each suggested a little weary breakfast carelessness in the kitchen.

FACTFILE

Name: Green Dragon

Address: Cowgate, Welton

Host: General manager Andy Cane

Opening Hours: noon-11pm Mon-Sat and noon-10pm Sun

Beers: Four handpulled real ales from the Marston’s stable – Cumberland, Wainwright, Marston’s EPA and 61 Deep on this visit – plus Fosters, San Miguel, Stella Artois, Strongbow and Guinness

Food: Wide-ranging grill menu available daily, with breakfast menu, sandwiches and Sunday lunch menus

Entertainment: Games machine and TV

Accommodation: 11 guest bedrooms available for around £70 for a double room with bed and breakfast

Beer garden: Attractive patio area looking out across the village green

Children: Welcomed; kids meals available

Disabled: Disabled access and toilets

Parking: Area to the rear, plus on-street parking nearby

Telephone: 01482 666700

Website: www.leedsbeerfestival.co.uk

Email: s.w.jenkins@ntlworld.com

Twitter: @jenkolovesbeer

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